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January 4, 2014

The Joy of Power Outages. ~ Karissa Kneeland

We lost power during the harsh ice storm of 2013—and it was wonderful.

The only other time I recall being without power for more than a flickering of the lights was during my childhood when Hurricane Bob hit Rhode Island.

While everyone around me was in semi-panic mode, I was thrilled. I sat by the window watching the wind plow through our yard while eating cold chicken. At night, I curled up in my bed-tent with an American Girl Doll book and a flashlight and read until I drifted into a peaceful slumber.

I was disappointed when I was sent to stay at my great-grandmother’s home with functioning power outlets. How dull it was to return to modern day life surrounded by the steady drone of electricity after experiencing the feelings of peace and simplicity that came with a power outage. Apparently, tranquility can be exciting.

One would think that now, 22 years later, I would react as any sane adult would with the loss of power—worry and a frantic rush to safely store away whatever is in the refrigerator, followed by digging through the closets to find every candle in the house.

But when the Christmas tree lights flickered out during the ice storm, I got that same excited rush as I did back in 1991. I lit the candles, had cold leftovers for dinner and curled up with my dog and a book by the fire.

Despite the frigid temperatures, I felt blissful.

All distractions were turned off. No blaring television, no bright lights. Just peace (and cold). Ironically, as the weight of the ice weighed down the power lines, it felt as if a weight had been lifted from myself.

It was an odd feeling at this age to not feel panicked when everyone around me was in a state of emergency. How abnormal was I for not wanting the power to come back on yet?

To add to the appeal of the storm, the ice was stunning. When the sun rose in the morning, I saw the world outside of my door covered in a thick layer of glistening beauty. As I walked with my dog around our neighborhood, it felt as if it were just the two of us (with the occasional appearance of a squirrel) in a winter wonderland.

I had errands to run and appointments to go to, but alas, it all had to be set aside. My car was covered in a thick sheet of ice, after all. My to-do list became frozen along with the power lines.

Then, while curled up by the fire on Christmas night, the tree lights flickered back on. As my husband deemed this the ultimate Christmas gift, I felt a twinge of disappointment. The television was turned on along with the lights, which felt glaring after the days of mellow candlelight.

I immediately felt my now thawed to-do list yelling at me for attention. The waves of previously frozen stress started breaking though the ice and crashing down on me once again.

I drudgingly plugged in my computer and started rummaging through the seemingly endless emails.

As I watch the weather on the news each night, I get a small thrill when the forecaster reports that another storm is blowing my way, with the secret urge that it will blow a power line down along with it.

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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: flickr

Karissa Kneeland

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